Squamous cell carcinoma of the throat is a type of head and neck cancer that develops in the cells that line the throat. It may develop in the windpipe, tonsils, or voice box.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the throat develops in the squamous cells. Squamous cells are flat, thin cells that make up the inner lining of the skin, mouth, and throat.
Squamous cell carcinoma throat cancer may affect any area of the throat. Doctors may classify squamous cell carcinoma of the throat by location within the throat.
This article covers squamous cell carcinoma throat cancer, including the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and more.
Doctors do not know the exact cause of squamous cell carcinoma of the throat. However, they have identified certain factors that may increase the risk.
Possible risk factors
- smoking tobacco
- heavy alcohol use
- human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which accounts for
up to 70%of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States
- age, as more than half of people with laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer are over
age 65 yearsat the time of diagnosis
- sex, as these types of cancer are up to five times more common in males
A person can contact a doctor if they have concerns about the risk factors of throat cancer.
The symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma of the throat vary depending on the exact location in the throat.
- trouble speaking, chewing, or swallowing
- breathing difficulties
- feeling like something is stuck in the throat
- pain in the throat that does not go away
- a lump in the throat
- an ulcer in the throat
- bloody mucus
- ringing in the ears
- ear pain
There are numerous possible causes for these symptoms. A doctor can order tests to determine whether cancer or another condition is the cause.
Doctors diagnose squamous cell carcinoma of the throat through a
Usually, the first step is a physical examination. The doctor will also ask questions about a person’s symptoms, and they may take a full medical history.
The doctor may also perform an endoscopy and laryngoscopy to view the inside of the throat. They will also perform a biopsy, which involves taking a tissue sample and sending it to a laboratory for analysis.
Imaging tests may help with diagnosis and determine the extent of the condition. These tests can include:
- CT scan
The doctor will explain which tests they order and what they involve.
Treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the throat can depend on the cancer stage and whether it has spread. A doctor can recommend treatments based on the person’s condition and help them create a suitable treatment plan.
A doctor may also recommend chemotherapy. Chemotherapy includes various types of drugs to destroy the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy treatment involves drugs that boost the immune response to help kill cancer cells. Targeted therapy medications attack specific proteins or cancer cells that promote cancer growth.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma may not only affect the structures of the throat. It can also develop in other areas of the head and neck, including the:
- nasal cavity
Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck can spread to other parts of the body. In most cases, it spreads locally or to lymph nodes in the neck.
Here are some frequently asked questions about squamous cell carcinoma of the throat.
How serious is squamous cell carcinoma of the throat?
Squamous cell carcinoma of the throat is a serious condition. In some cases, it can affect a person’s ability to talk, eat, and breathe. It can also become life threatening.
However, receiving an accurate diagnosis and starting treatment as early as possible may help improve the outcome.
What is the survival rate of squamous cell carcinoma of the throat?
The survival rate of squamous cell carcinoma of the throat varies by cancer stage and location of the tumor. People with localized cancer that has not spread outside the throat typically have a better outcome than those with advanced cancer.
For example, people with localized cancer in the larynx have a 5-year relative survival rate of anywhere from 59–84%, according to the
Survival rates may improve as continued research improves treatments for people with squamous cell carcinoma of the throat. It is also important to remember that each person’s outlook will differ.
A relative survival rate helps give an idea of how long a person with a particular condition may live after receiving a diagnosis compared with people without the condition.
For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate is 70%, it means a person with the condition is 70% as likely to live for 5 years as someone without the condition.
It is important to remember that these figures are estimates. A person can consult a healthcare professional about how their condition will affect them.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the throat is a form of cancer that develops in the cells that line the throat. It may develop in the voice box, tonsils, and epiglottis. Symptoms often include pain in the throat and trouble swallowing.
Smoking tobacco is one of the main risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma of the throat. Other risk factors include heavy alcohol use and HPV infection.
It is best to contact a doctor as soon as a person has concerns about the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma of the throat. The doctor can order tests to confirm the diagnosis and advise on suitable treatments, which may include surgery and radiation therapy.